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Journal of thoracic oncology : official publication of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer

Diffuse high intensity PD-L1 staining in thymic epithelial tumors.


PMID 25402569

Abstract

Blockade of the immune checkpoint programmed death receptor ligand-1 (PD-L1)/PD-1 pathway has well-established clinical activity across many tumor types. PD-L1 protein expression by immunohistochemistry is emerging as a predictive biomarker of response to these therapies. Here, we examine PD-L1 expression in a thymic epithelial tumor (TET) tissue microarray (TMA). The TMA contained 69 TETs and 17 thymic controls, with each case represented by triplicate cores. The TMA was stained with rabbit monoclonal antibody (clone 15; Sino Biological, Beijing, China) to human PD-L1. PD-L1 staining was scored based on intensity as follows: 0 = none, 1 = equivocal/uninterpretable, 2 = weak, and 3 = intermediate-strong. Those cases with all cores scoring three in the epithelial component were categorized as PD-L1 high and the remaining as PD-L1 low. PD-L1 high scores were more frequent in TETs than in controls (68.1% versus 17.6%; p = 0.0036). PD-L1 scores and histology were significantly correlated, with higher intensity staining in World Health Organization (WHO). B2/B3/C TETs. Only 14.8% of TETs had PD-L1 staining of associated lymphocytes. In an adjusted analysis (age/sex), PD-L1 high TETs had a significantly worse overall survival (hazard ratio: 5.40, 95% confidence interval: 1.13-25.89; p = 0.035) and a trend for worse event-free survival (hazard ratio: 2.94, 95% confidence interval: 0.94-9.24; p = 0.064). PD-L1 expression was present in all cases of TETs within the epithelial component but only in a minority in the lymphocytic component. TETs stained more intensely for PD-L1 than in controls, and PD-L1 high TETs were associated with more aggressive histology and worse prognosis. This study lends rationale to a clinical trial with anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy in this rare tumor type.